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The Cleveland Indians: Is Anybody Home?

May 10, 2012

The Cleveland Indians are in first place; currently two games clear of the Detroit Tigers, who were predicted to win the Central by about 10 games and 600 pounds.  This Tribe team has been a surprise in almost every sense of the word.  Before the season I wrote that Cleveland was going to win the division because the Tigers wouldn’t live up to the hype.  I also gave a list of the things that the Indians needed to be successful that has been mostly accurate thus far. That said I believed that the two biggest factors to the Indians success would be their possibly dominant 1-2 punch of Masterson-Jimenez and the return of the real Shin-Soo Choo. Well… I haven’t exactly hit on those two, what with Choo barely hitting his weight and Masterson & Jimenez looking more like bottom of the rotation guys as opposed to dueling aces.

However, the Indians are still, indeed, leading their division.  They’re doing it with timely hitting (leading the league in 2-out runs scored), patience at the plate (1st in total team walks and pitches per at bat) and maybe just a little bit of smoke and mirrors. This team has been a surprise to the national media as well as to fans but the burning issue on seemingly every Cleveland sports talk radio show is, “Why isn’t anyone coming out to the games?”

The Cleveland Indians are first in the Central record-wise and LAST IN THE ENTIRE LEAGUE in attendance.  They’ve sold out one game; Opening Day. You know, the “holiday” people use to take off work and get blasted on $8 tall boys.  These shows, both on the AM and FM stations, are practically scolding the fans for not heading down to the corner of Carnegie and Ontario; lambasting them for not supporting their team. I happen to know the real reasons why no one is showing up though, and I’ll be happy to clue you in:

1.)    The Dolans– The current owners of this franchise are, for lack of a better term, dumb.  I’m not saying they aren’t business savvy because clearly someone in their gene pool has the acumen to create a family of millionaires.  The reason that they are idiots is because you don’t buy a professional sports team without having the means to run it successfully.  Yes, you have millions of dollars but in order to run a team successfully you need to have millions of dollars to lose and still succeed.  You don’t buy a professional sports team in order for it to be your main source of income.  The Dolans owning the Indians is equivalent to me owning a $40,000 car; sure I could probably make the payments from month to month but it would leave me with literally no discretionary income to speak of. (side note: I’m poor)

By telling your fans that you can’t afford to offer contracts to big stars (or even keep your homegrown talent) you’re telling them, “We do not have a sufficient amount of money to own this team and so we’re going to blame attendance numbers.”  There is one man in Cleveland who should own the Indians and he’s their next door neighbor. You might have heard of this guy. His name is Dan Gilbert; he owns the Cavs, just built Cleveland a casino and prints his own money.  He is flat out the real King of Cleveland and would have the money to bring big stars to our humble town.  He’s basically Marc Cuban with hair gel.  I know the Dolans aren’t going to sell the team so this is a pipedream but my point is if you’re going to spend money on a big toy, make sure you have the means to take care of it.

2.)    Cleveland is not a baseball town:  I know this might be upsetting to hear because all of us Clevelanders consider ourselves to be the best (and most tortured) fan base around.  While I’ll proudly argue with anyone from another city who wants to debate which fans have been through the most agony something that needs to be truly understood about Cleveland is that it is a football town.  Now, this isn’t a bad thing.  Browns games sell out all the time and city lives and dies every Sunday (mostly dies) with the franchise.  This has been proven by the last decade; the Browns have cowered below even the line of mediocrity and yet fans are as passionate as ever.

When it comes to the Indians however, they join the Cavs on that tier just below the Browns.  Want proof?  The way I see it you can classify yourself as one of the following three types of fans. First, the Opening Day Drunkards.  As mentioned above, these people take off Opening Day, get blitzed at the Thirsty Parrot all morning and then wander off to West 6th after the game.  These people don’t care one bit if the Tribe actually wins so long as they don’t “harsh the buzz, brah”.  The only other time you’ll see these fans is the occasional weekend game or on Dollar Dog Night.  Oh and if the Indians make the playoffs, you can rest assured that the Drunkards will be at those games as well joining our next group of Clevelanders: The Fair Weather Fans.

Fair weather fans make up the majority of the people who ‘follow’ the Indians. These are the fans that will turn on the game to see the score and maybe keep it on if we’re winning.  If the team is doing REALLY well (see: the mid-90s) then they’ll head out to the stadium for the old ball game.  If you fall in this category don’t feel bad.  Being a fair weather fan of a baseball team isn’t a negative thing.  It’s hard to keep up with 160+ games, especially if your team is mediocre at best.  There’s no shame in being able to proudly state, “I have a life. I don’t need to watch 4 hours of baseball every night.”  This leads us to the final category of fans; the Diehards.

Diehard fans are the people who need to watch 4 hours of baseball every night.  They will engulf themselves into every aspect of the game: they’ll stay at the stadium during rain delays, regularly have Twitter conversations with the Bullpen Mafia and understand what I mean when I talk about BABIP.  I proudly (or sadly…depending on the day) place myself in this category.  These are the people who are going to watch the games regardless of if the team wins 65 or 95 games.  Unfortunately for the Indians’ management, this group makes up the vast minority.  If Cleveland were a baseball town, say somewhere like St. Louis, these numbers would skew more towards the 1st and 3rd groups always being present in the stadium. But as it stands, you’re going to need sustained success to fill your seats.

3.)    This happened last year:  My third and final reason as to why the stadium is roughly 10% full on any given night is because in June of 2011 the Indians were shocking the Major Leagues by leading the Central Division. Sound familiar? The difference was they were a full 15 games clear of .500 at 30-15. Real excitement was being created and the fans started to come down to the park; only to watch them play sub .500 ball the rest of the way, break down because of injuries and, eventually, give way to the Detroit Tigers.  Don’t get me wrong, I would much rather have the Indians start fast and jump out to a lead again this year than play awful, but you have to understand that the general fan base is not going to get overly excited because this is exactly what happened last year before the team faded.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the bleachers still barren as late as September, even if the Indians are still in 1st.  Rest assured though, if October baseball returns, so will the fans.

So…what’s it going to take for The Jake to start getting filled on a regular basis again?  Two options: either the Dolans sell the team to Mr. Gilbert or the Indians shock the world and find a way to make the 2012 playoffs.  Sadly, because of all the heartbreak we’ve endured, I don’t know which is less likely. Regardless if you’re looking for me between the hours of 7 and 10 pm most nights, you know where to find me; watching my Indians, obsessing over each and every pitch.

Go Tribe.

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I believe…in May

May 2, 2012

In Northeast, Ohio April showers bring May….showers. However, they also bring us some reasons to believe.

Spring has sprung in CLE-Town!  Which means that it’s raining a whole bunch and the temperature can’t decide if its first number should be a 4 or a 7; wheat beer can be found in every fridge and 5K’s are in full swing.  We’ve fought through a mild winter, a strange early spring and now it’s finally time to look forward to warm evenings by the grill and long nights on the porch. While I have other times of year that I may prefer, there’s no denying the excitement that summer brings.  It’s been a few weeks since we made a list so I think it’s time for the return of “The Most Optimistic Man in America” (Thanks, Max)

Let’s get right to it. Here are some of the things I believe in right now…

I believe in $6 bleacher seats. In sun-soaked, dollar-hot-dog filled Tribe games with the soundtrack of a beaten drum and obnoxious insults thrown towards the opposing teams left fielder.

I believe in What if; in a scrappy pitching staff and a bunch of no names being in first place in the Central. I believe in the Cleveland Indians.

I believe in NFL minicamps.  I believe in refreshing the Rumors page at espn.com to see the latest free agents and the grumblings about who might be going where. Sadly, again, it appears that I believe in quarterback competitions and the eventual 10+ camera sideline shots of the backup QB per game in the fall.

I believe in grilling season; in learning new recipes and trying them out.  I believe in a perfectly marinated pieced of meat.  I believe in pork chops, burgers, brats, grilled pineapple and any vegetable you can think of.

I believe in reuniting with old friends, even if it’s through email.

Seeing as it is May, I believe in moving. In new beginnings that can only be brought by a moving truck and a new address. I believe in sharing a duplex with a best friend. I believe in the eventual weekend mornings where we open the doors and Holden, Rooney and Dempsey run wild through the whole place.

I believe in cheap Chinese food.

I believe in Fifa Fridays with growlers, insults and good friends.

I believe in email chains about bachelor parties, summer road trips and the coming weekend’s betting prospectus.

I believe in Saturday morning championship soccer and I believe in watching it at a pub with good people.  I also believe in betting the ponies with a couple degenerates showing me the ropes.

I believe in underdogs and long odds.

I believe that sometimes you’ve got to Lay the Favorite.

I believe in long runs at night; in sweating off the stresses of a long day one mile at a time.

I believe in weekend vacations with great friends. I believe in Vegas; in making memories that you’ll never forget, provided you can piece them together in the morning.

As much as I love getting away, I believe in being reunited with Holden almost as much as the trip itself.  I believe in getting attacked by his slobber and having him act extra clingy for an entire week afterwards.

I believe in welcoming the newest member to our ever-growing family: Faethe Anne.  I believe in Saturday afternoons at mom’s; complete with kids running and crawling everywhere, lots of food and dogs playing in the yard.

Two Fine Irishmen

April 27, 2012

Last weekend I was took a trip to my favorite city (Las Vegas) with my favorite people and wound up at my favorite bar (Nine Fine Irishmen).  For those of you’ve who’ve never been there it’s a two-story Irish pub, in the NY/NY casino, with a balcony overlooking the Strip.  They serve the standard Guinness and whiskey and the not so standard McSorely’s, Murphy’s and black currant. Their food is classic Irish fare (lamb stew, shepherd’s pie, soda bread sides, etc) and every night they have live Irish music.

The reasons above would be enough to make it one of my favorite places around but what sets it apart is that every time I’ve been there (see: EVERY Vegas trip I’ve ever taken) something amazing seems to happen.  Without fail, I always meet ridiculous people who actually hail from Ireland; this time was no exception.

Alex & I started our Saturday night there with our friends Scott and Christa before gambling and then heading to a dueling piano bar.   Around midnight our friends went to get pizza and called it a night.  A slightly inebriated Alex looked at me and said, “Let’s go back to Nine Fine Irishmen.” Don’t have to tell me twice!

The band was, of course, still playing Irish jigs and we drank alone for a while until Alex had to go to the ladies’ room. She looked towards the bar where a group of older gentlemen (in their 70s) were standing and, in a moment that would become pure genius, said to me, “I’m going to the restroom…you should go talk to those guys.” Under normal circumstances that’d be an interesting request but, filled with a day’s worth of alcohol, all I could think was, “Yep, Of course I should. Great idea!”

I went up to the bar, acting like I was waiting for a drink despite my full Newcastle, and struck up a conversation. We made eye contact and I gave the universal “glass raised in the air” cheers and asked what they were drinking.  Instead of saying anything, one of the gentlemen shoved his whiskey, rocks directly into my face.  He then grabbed my Newcastle, took a sip, and with a grimace told me, “This goat’s piss is shite!” Whoa…

He proceeded to tell me that any beer that isn’t Guinness isn’t beer and that Irishmen should only drink whiskey at night because, “Beer is for before heading out”. At least I think that’s what he said.  It was hard to follow much of it since the music was loud and his accent was thicker than Grizzly Adams’ beard.  I could tell that these men were amazing and so I kept up the conversation until Alex came back.  I found out that the two of them were born in Belfast but now reside just outside of Dublin.  When Alex came back they hugged her and, while glancing over at me said bluntly, “You’re much prettier than him.” Ha, she sure is.

We spent the next two hours dancing and drinking with them. They bought me shots of whiskey and smiled approvingly as I sang Rocky Road to Dublin and jigged to Whiskey in the Jar.  When Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ came on they asked, “What this crap was” and told me that American Football was for pansies.  I then proceeded to mock the Irish International team by saying that, “At least the U.S. men make the World Cup…”  Thankfully, they just laughed that one off.

When I asked how long they had known each other they said, “About 70 years” and then smacked each other on the side of the head.  They had a 3rd friend whom they’d met that week. He was from Australia but born in Ireland which made him, “mostly an Irishmen.” They came to the States because “There were some things we’ve always wanted to see” and so they’d been here about a month.  They didn’t mention the other sites they’d been to but they were sure to inform us that they’d been at Nine Fine Irishmen every night that week.

The band finished their set around 3 am and, since we were barely able to stand up straight, we knew it was time to head back to our hotel room.  We took pictures and, while kissing us both on the lips, they told us that we’d make great grandchildren!  Offering one last Slainte’ we went our separate ways, another memory made at the greatest bar in the world.

I don’t know where they went following nights but I have to assume that there are some very lucky young men and women across the country that’ll get to drink with some of the greatest gentlemen I’ve ever met.

Wherever you two are I’m sure Irish eyes are smiling on you.  Erin Go Bragh and Slainte to you both.

In September I’ll be returning to Vegas for my bachelor party. Any guesses on where we’ll start?

Life is what happens…

April 16, 2012

This weekend I’m fortunate enough to be taking a 4 day vacation to Las Vegas with Alex and 2 of our best friends, who are also engaged.  We’re taking the trip because, frankly, none of us take much time off, we wanted to travel together and we got a good deal.  We booked the trip just before Christmas; call if a gift to ourselves.  Alex and I just have easily could’ve said we would prefer to save the money and not gone.  We would’ve padded our savings but we would have missed out on a trip that is going to be amazing.

Around the same time a work friend of mine asked me to do the Tough Mudder obstacle course because it was going to be in Amherst, Ohio…basically our hometown.   I said yes to that too.  I’ve always been a gym rat; overly obsessed with being in shape.  Some call this being healthy but I know it’s mainly vanity. I spent the last 4 months working my body even harder than I usually do. The result: I’ve lost ten pounds and I have a semblance of abs.  What I didn’t do in that 4 months was ever officially sign up for the run. It ended up being a higher price and so instead of rearranging my schedule a little a paying an amount that I could afford, I didn’t do the run.  I spent Sunday pouting all day and, eventually, running an admittedly ridiculous distance to try to clear my head.  Despite my excitement for my upcoming Vegas weekend, I’m filled with regret and some self-anger about the fact that I didn’t do the Tough Mudder.

During my run I started to think about these two events and what they mean to me.  On the good side I’m going to my favorite city with my favorite people. On the bad side, I missed out on an event that I promised myself I’d do and properly had prepared for.

There’s a song I loved in high school by a little band called Piebald.  It’s called Long Nights and in it there’s a line that says, “Life if what happens while we’re making plans.”  I think about this line still and I think it still rings true.  I spent the ¼ of a year preparing for something but never bothered to do it.  My advice: don’t do this.  If a friend suggests something that sounds impossible, don’t immediately dismiss it.  Find out if it’s possible and, if it is, make a memory because the sad truth is that you will think about the memories you haven’t made almost as often as the ones you have.  I am predicting that this Vegas trip will be something that I never forget and, luckily, next year that Tough Mudder is back in Amherst.  You can believe I’ll be making memories there as well.

Music in the movies

April 12, 2012

As is true with most of my ideas this come about I was having an email conversation with a friend. It somehow turned to the topic of amazing musical numbers in movies. I’m not talking about actual musicals turned into movies like Jesus Christ: Superstar or Phantom of the Opera. Rather we’re talking about songs from classic comedies that end up being some of our favorite parts of the movies. The song itself could be hilarious or just frankly a really good song. I realized that there are more of these than you might realize and so I figured I’d treat you to a little end of week YouTube-fest. Since the idea started with Ghostbusters II, let’s begin there: (about a minute in by the way…)

(Note: All of these are clips where the song is actually part of the scene. So while I love the Dazed and Confused and Forest Gump soundtracks, and obviously the Rocky IV montage, those won’t make the cut here…)

Ghostbusters II: Statue of Liberty Scene

This clip has it all: Great commentary from Bill Murray, the Statue of Liberty, cheesy 1980s “excited crowd” cheering shots and, of course, a glorious song. If I still had a song as my ringtone this would totally be it.

 

Blues Brothers: Everybody Needs Somebody to Love

There may be more humorous selections on this list but for my money (and Mez’s) you won’t find a better jam. Jake and Elwood Blues have gotten the band back together and boy was it worth it.

 

Spaceballs: Hello my Baby!

Perhaps the most disturbing selection on the list but it has to be included. In fact, I like to believe in a world where most every list has something included from Spaceballs.

 

Office Space: That scene where the dork raps in the car then totally turns down the music and locks his door when he sees a black guy

This is the classic example of white people who love rap music while being terrified of black people. Ah racism, you are a terrible thing that apparently still makes for great jokes…?  Side Note: If this actor was 10 years younger he’d probably be staring in The Big Bang Theory. (Probably NSFW….unless you have headphones or a  really easy going office)

 

Top Gun- You’ve Lost…that Lovin’ Feelin

Since the funniest “musical” moment in Top Gun is the Playin with the Boys volleyball scene doesn’t fit the description for this post, the choice has to be the bar scene serenade.  If you’re a male reading this you will either admit to mimicking this scene at some point in your life or…you’re lying.  She’s lost that Lovin feelin… I hate it when she does that.

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II – Ninja Rap

Aside from being one of the greatest movies from our childhood complete with Tokka & Rahzar, Ernie Reyes Jr. & Big Sexy Kevin Nash as Shredder, TMNT II also offers Vanilla Ice performing his greatest hit while the Turtles kick ass and drop fantastic Turtel-esque lines.  You might be thinking, “Vanilla Ice sang Ice, Ice Baby in that movie?”   No, you idiot… his best song ever was obviously Ninja Rap…

Cowabunga, indeed.

 

Hamlet II – Rock me Sexy Jesus

Hamlet II is without a doubt the least famous of the movies on this list but it may just be the funniest movie you’ve never seen.  Steve Coogan and Amy Poehler lead this little piece of genius filled to the brim with inappropriateness and comedy.  Basically Coogan’s character is a caricature of every high school drama director ever (sorry, Nan) and man does he nail it.  His new play, a sequel to Hamlet, is what I imagine Godspell would look like if Matt Stone and Trey Parker wrote it.  Here is one of the many magical musical moments:

 

Life of Brian- Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

You ever get condemned to a wrongful crucifixion only to have someone else pretend to be you so they get off free leaving you pretty much screwed?  Yeah, I hate that too.  You know what makes me feel better? A catchy tune with some cheery whistling in it…

 

Monty Python and the Holy Grail- Bravely Bold Sir Robin

A group so perfect they deserve two slots on the list.  I could have gone with multiple musical numbers here (most likely runner up being CAMELOT) but Sir Robin’s Minstrel’s make me laugh every time.  I present to you now, the tale of Sir Robin…

 

Almost Famous – Tiny Dancer

While the rest of these clips have been humorous, I’d like to end this post with a clip that is more inspirational and moving then it is funny.  Almost Famous is one of my favorite movies of all time and right up there with Dazed and Confused for top “movie I’ll watch when I’m feeling nostalgic”.  This clip reminds me of so many things: high school, college, and my siblings’ weddings that I almost get misty-eyed just watching it.  There’s something about this song that can bring a group of people together. Next time you’re at a party or just with a large group of friends put Tiny Dancer on. I can guarantee you by the end of the song you’ll have yourself an Almost Famous moment.

Happy Friday, everyone.


Why I write…

April 5, 2012

A close friend recently sent me a link to a blog entitled Why I write on days I don’t feel like writing and I absolutely loved it.  I highly recommend clicking that link above because it’s incredibly inspirational.  Since I believe that no good idea should go un-copied, I’m going to borrow the author’s theme and tweak it just a little bit.

Here are (in list fashion, of course) the reasons why I write:

I write because I have something to say.

I write because while a spoken word is fleeting, a written word lasts.

I write for validation; the need to be more than just a face in a crowd.  I write to stand out, if only for a moment.

I write because I’m afraid. Afraid of losing the thoughts I have forever.  Afraid no one will know how I’m feeling.  Afraid that, if I stop writing, I’ll forget what it feels like to write.

I write because I’m nostalgic.  I write because of Lorain Catholic; the sports, classes, friends, dances and, of course, the drama club. I write for those late night poker sessions that always ended at Denny’s.  I write for homecoming floats and prom-to-dawns.  I write for the state baseball playoffs when the whole school got out early to watch us play.  I write because of Turkey Crawl.  I write for apple picking on a fall afternoon and a full plate on Christmas Eve night.  I write because of long bus rides to football games and JCU spring baseball trips.  I write for nights that I drank too much and said too little.  I write because even though I love right now, the past is nice to look back on.  The grass may not always be greener, but faded pictures have beauty as well.

I write for the present. I write for Alex, Holden and my nieces and nephew.  I write for my parents, who couldn’t possibly know how thankful I am.  I write for my siblings; whom I don’t talk to as much as I’d like.  I write for friends I don’t see very often. I write for our wedding, because I already can’t say thank you enough to everyone. I write because life can become hectic and cluttered and some thoughts shouldn’t get lost in that shuffle.

I write for the future.  For the trips I’ve yet to take, the things I’ve yet to see and the life I’ve yet to lead. I write because I’m hopeful for the experiences I’ve yet to encounter.  I write because maybe, someday, someone will pay for my words.

I write because years from now, when I’m gone, my children will do a Google search and discover what an optimist their dad was.

I write because of Seuss, Carroll & Dahl; Wilde, Dostoyevsky, Palahniuk, Sedaris and all the others who move me.

I write because my memories of Grandpa, Mr. Casper, Grandma and Coach Myers are still as fresh today as they were when they were still with us.  I write for those memories, because they deserve to be shared.

I write because those who were, those that are and those who will be all deserve a voice; even one as small as mine.

I write because I think I’m smarter than every sports talk radio host in Cleveland.  I write because I know who the Browns will draft, how the Indians will do and the future of the Cavs. At least in my mind, I do.

I write because people can impact you in mysterious ways.  I write so that they know that a piece of them stays with me, even after they’re gone.

I write to clear my head; because every morning when I wake up its swarming with things I want to share.  I write because a conversation on paper feels more two-sided than a conversation with myself.

I write because I want to know I’m growing.  I can look at something I wrote a year ago and realize my naivety, or if I was right. I write because hindsight is only 20/20 if you have something  to look back on.

I write when I’m sad, when the world feels too heavy to carry on my shoulders. I write because on the days when I’m happy I want to have something to look back on and be mindful of.

I write when I’m happy, when cloud nine is below me, I can do no wrong and my smile is ear to ear.  I write because on those not so great days I want something to look back on and know that the world is not ending.

I write for all these reasons and many more but mostly I write because I love it and I believe that you should do what you love and the rest will figure itself out.

2 Baseball Bros: An MLB preview

April 3, 2012

My brother’s two best friends, Chris and Max, both reside in Los Angeles and I’m proud to call both of them my pseudo big brothers. While I turn to Chris for free music, traveling tips and the inside scoop on Jimmy Kimmel and Bill Simmons, Max is the one human being male (better, PIC?) on earth who loves baseball as much as I do.  He’s is an avid LA Dodgers fan who, despite his teams recent troubles, has reasons to believe they’re about to turn the corner. As for believing in things, well I don’t think I need to remind about my thoughts on that subject.

What follows is a series of emails that took place over the week leading up to Opening Day. Buckle in and grab a drink…you might be here a while:

Adam: Alright bro, opening day is less than a week away and some massive news just came across the wires.  I feel as if I should just let you start us off with that…

Max: Magic Johnson bought the Dodgers!! Is there really a crazier way to start this email conversation? Magic Johnson!!! 5 time NBA Champion… The most beloved figure in Los Angeles sports history, a truly transcendent sports icon, purchases the once storied franchise that broke the color barrier and restores it to its former glory. To try to put this into perspective for my Northern Coasters, it would be like Bobby Sure, errr, Albert Bell, errrr, Mark Price (????) purchasing the Browns for an ungodly sum of money and promising the moon…or at least a pure shooting stroke. I have to admit that my knowledge of the baseball landscape is a bit limited right now as far as the minor moves teams made over the offseason. I’ll figure out around July where exactly Jamey Carroll has landed and who starts at 2nd for the Royals but seriously…MAGIC.

Adam:  I respond to this a bit melancholy for a few reasons. 1) I’m leaving Vegas and its 6 am. 2) Ohio St. lost in the most anticlimactic, and worse camera angle, possible but their loss won me bracket money so…wash and 3) while I love the Indians I don’t have a superhuman to magnetize to; Grady is a brittle shell of his former self, Pronk doesn’t have shoulders anymore (his arms literally just float there) and long gone are the mid 90s smash line up. Seriously long gone.  Albert Belle recently showed up to the Indians Spring Training and looked like Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince.

Shown here: Not a strict but loving uncle and successful judge…


Every major star has been traded for Matt “I can’t rotate my hips or stay off a breaking ball to end hunger in Africa” LaPorta. That said I believe in this Tribe team (believing is kind of my thing) and I honestly see the return of October baseball. We’ll get into personal team predictions later.

Oh and ESPN.com, you can stop wondering, I’m the person who did a quick search for Jamey Carroll this morning. He’s with the Twins by the way. He’s going to work so many counts.  As for the Royals 2nd baseman… Yuniesky Betancourt.  You’re welcome.  I feel like the Count from Princess Bride. I’ve stolen 5 minutes of your life…how do you feel? OK let’s do some awards projections:

Max: 2012 will be a historic year. It will mark the first time that one player wins the MVP and is canonized as a living saint. Matt Kemp, oh Matt Kemp. The (actual) NL MVP winner from 2011 will win his 2nd MVP award in 2012. Childhood friend, and super crafty positive PED test getter out of-er, Ryan Braun’s numbers will be irrelevant as the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) tend to frown on PED’s (see: HOF voting for the last 7 years.).

Adam: NL MVP: Mr. 50-50 Matthew Kemp. Your man-love aside, he’s just the best baseball player alive. It won’t be close. Matt Kemp doesn’t take PEDs, PEDs take Matt Kemp’s… Yep, this is going to become a thing.  Ok, NL CY Young?

 

Max: Tim Lincecum. I hate that I just wrote that. Timmy had a 2.74 ERA w/ 220 K’s and went 13-14. God you’d think he was a Dodger. Against the Dodgers he went 0-5. 0-4 against last year’s Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw. I say Timmy wins his 3rd, because voters like voting for the same people over and over (see: all previous choices for gold gloves, specifically Derek Jeter).

Adam: God I hate Derek Jeter.  ESPN acted like it was a big deal that he was outside of their top 100 players… News Flash: He’s old & terrible. Hey New York, enjoy .230 and the worst range this side of Jhonny Peralta.  Anyway, Cole Hamels will narrowly beat out Clayton Kershaw before becoming Magic’s first big purchase for 900 billion dollars next offseason. I can’t wait until the Phillies somehow miss the playoffs. It’s going to be the best. I’m already excited for the It’s Always Sunny… episode about it. AL MVP?

Max: Matt Kemp. I told you this was going to be a historic year. In a completely unprecedented move, the BBWAA write in Matt Kemp’s name for AL MVP. When Robinson Cano, runner up for the 2012 MVP, is asked for comment, he responds “He’s Matt Kemp, the Bison. Not only do I think he deserves both awards, I think the guy should be canonized as a living saint” thus starting a historic world tour in the Popemobile.” When controversy strikes about the fact that Matt Kemp is not catholic nor has he performed a miracle, the Pope will famously note “Kennedy was hardly a catholic, and as far as miracles, have you seen him run from 1st to 3rd?”

Adam: Wow… that was sacrelicious. Robby Cano has the purest swing in baseball but my vote is Jose Bautista. Blue Jays make the playoffs and he uses their secret centerfield camera to hit 50+ bombs again. Homer sleeper pick: guitar legend Carlos Santana. Since I know where this is going I’ll give you my AL Cy Young first… it’s David Price. Cleveland pick: Justin “bald, beardy and beautiful” Masterson. Ok, do that thing you do… the gut and eyes move:

Max: AL CY YOUNG Matt Kemp. There’s nothing this man can’t do. Including as he said yesterday “I would beat Magic in a game of 1 on 1.” (Side note, Matt Kemp was offered a full ride to play at Oklahoma alongside Blake Griffin. Matt Kemp is a God.) Yu Darvish.

I know absolutely nothing about the Indians except for Supernatural who, as we know, was totally worth trading for a guy who is no longer in baseball. Hey everyone, come meet Casey Blake this Sunday at Drugmart in Elyria, autographed pictures for $29.95. Limited to the first 150 people who show up, as Casey has a bad back and can’t sign too many…

Adam: You leave Casey Blake and Drugmart alone.  One offered flexibility at multiple positions and the other provides discount prices and weekly specials!  Ok, go ahead and talk a little bit about the offseason moves you loved and hated.

Max: I want YU so bad. I wanted this dude three years ago after watching him pitch at the world Baseball Classic. The guy has FIVE OUT PITCHES. I don’t care that he’s having control problems this spring. The guy has never posted an ERA above 3, misses bats, is built like a shooting guard, and thinks he is entitled to the Cy Young TODAY, which he is. He makes Dice-k look like Kuroda, he makes Kuroda look like Nomo, and he makes Nomo look like Kaz Ishii, he is a capital S STUD. Yu will be worth every penny Texas paid for him.  Not to mention he’ll really drive up attendance for the extensive Asian community in and around Dallas, Texas… errr…

Some I don’t like…

Once upon a time Magic Johnson was given a 25 year 25 million dollar contract. No one thought magic would play until he was 47. It was meant to symbolize that Magic Johnson would never play for another team, that he was a Laker for life. Well that’s what Arte Moreno said about Albert Pujols with the Angels. The problem is that Albert has already had an entire career with an actual storied franchise. No one cares about the Angels outside of Angels Stadium or the ten miles surrounding it. No one who’s a Dodger fan cares about the Angels. It’s very similar to the Lakers/Clippers. We don’t even bother. So when Albert is making 35 million when he’s 42 (or 52 depending on whether you believe what you’re told, or use your brain/eyes) and he’s sipping a Mojito in Santo Domingo cashing Angel’s paychecks, we can talk about the merit of this deal. Prince “the fattest vegetarian ever” Fielder, wow; this contract makes me think of the old baseball saying “never sign a fat 28 year old to a monster deal because fat people tend to break down.” (See: Mo Vaughn)

Matt Kemp got every penny he deserved (though I think he’s going to start realllllly slow this year, because his spring has been horrific, but god is he fun to look at, I  mean watch.

Adam: I agree with you on Yu and the fact that paying a 300 pound vegetarian and a grandfather a bazillion dollars is just dumb. I can’t wait to watch slow grounds balls roll somehow out of range of the entire Tigers’ infield. Sure they’ll score 6 a game but they’ll give up that much just from balls hit at Miggys face. Ouch. Seriously though, everyone makes such a huge deal about winning the off-season.  Philly and Boston ‘won’ last year’s off-season. How’d that work out for them?  My favorite move was Reyes to Miami Marlines of Dade County, Florida, USofA.

Yes we get, MattKemp, MattKemp, MattKemp.

By the way if Eric Hosmer isn’t a top 25 player in the league this year I will eat my own face. Alex Gordon had more outfield assists against the Indians than any other outfielder had total all year (stat pending research…. ok it’s wrong) I’m jealous and scared of the Royals. No one has said that since 1980ever.

Give me your projected Dodgers outcome, what needs to happen for them to make the playoffs.

 

Max: I read this yesterday but didn’t respond; if it were a box score it would have read: DNP-Liver. I haven’t had back to back BIG nights out in a good long time. Late Saturday night around 845ish (this is not late…), after my 3rd Acai martini, I began to feel a bit wobbly and went to the facilities to empty my vagina. To my surprise I found balls there, and managed to pull it together for a few more rounds of strawberry coolers. In truth I felt like an aging rock star on a comeback tour. Exhausted but reinvigorated by the crowd, and by “crowd” I mean the literal gathering of people that occurred around a certain point in the evening to watch this group of fading stars take shots. (This story may or may not be true, and it may be a friend whose identity I’m withholding.) Needless to say today I can complete a cohesive thought.

What do they Dodgers need to win it all? Well what everyone else needs; if you look back to every other World Series winner, it requires career years from a handful of players. That’s the truth. Every team to win the WS for the last 25 years had 3 guys play out of their minds. I will randomly pick a team to prove my point. 6 of the 9 starters everyday players hit .295 and above. A few of the guys who had no business hitting .300? Jon Jay? David Freese? An Ancient Lance Berkman? 4 of their 5 starters with an ERA below 3.58. Remember how everyone was surprised when they won the World Series after barely making the playoffs? It’s hard to make the playoffs in MLB (or was) and chances are if you did, you deserve to be there.

So step one. Make the playoffs. In the NL West, every pundits punching bag as the “weakest division in baseball” but I would like to point out that since 1998 every team save the Dodgers has appeared in the World Series. 5 of the last 6 CY Young winners are in the NL West. Matt Kemp and Justin Upton are two of the games brightest young stars, and Andre Ethier will most likely be the biggest name free agent this summer, in an admittedly weak class.

So who is key to the Dodgers’ success? Chad Billingsley. No pitcher in my life has baffled me more than Chad. He’ll throw 48 pitches through 5 innings, giving up a blooper and a walk. Then throw 50 in the 7th with 3 walks and 7 runs. He just loses his focus; or endurance. This happens ten times a year. They changed his mechanics this offseason: something to do with his foot landing and falling off the mound. But his spring numbers (ERA over 5, 1 to 1 ratio K’s to walks) don’t look encouraging. So if Chad finds himself, and has a career year (200 innings 3.45 ERA) that will give us a great chance at the NL West.

Kershaw is reliable for 18 wins. Harang and Capuano and Ted Lily? It’s like Ned Colletti consciously put together a collection of starters that he could also bring with him to the country club on off days for a quick 9 (read: boring middle aged white guys who will have a 4.25 ERA throw 200 innings and each surrender 30+ home runs). YAY Ned.

Loney needs to produce this year or I’m done with him. Truth be told, I’ve been done with him for a few years. He’s a gold glove caliber 1B with alley power and the focus of an ADHD 11 yr old. He wastes about 75 AB’s a year swinging at outside fastballs he could never drive, popping out to just behind the SS. If he ever figures out not to swing at that pitch, he’d hit 330 a year. He manages 90 RBI’s a year while hitting only 10 home runs…a remarkable feat.

Andre Ethier needs to truly be a star but he can’t be until he learns how to occasionally hit lefties. He hit a horrid .210 last year against southpaws, and still managed to hit .290. If he just manages to bring that up to .240 imagine the numbers…

The Dodgers have the best bullpen in baseball. Period. Not that every lead is safe. But our sophomore closer, who I fully expect to take a step backwards, will still close 92% of games. He’s backed up by the guy with the nastiest fastball in baseball in Kenley Jansen. Kenley shattered the single season K per 9innings ration. 16.10 per 9. Insane. Truly. Not only does he miss bats, when bats do make contact, the ball goes nowhere. I would not be surprised if this guy doctors the ball. Not remotely kidding. We have mike McD who posted a 2.02 ERA last year in long relief. Impressive right? Also have a couple lefty specialist out there who had under a 2.50 ERA. The real weakness of this team is in the “in between” because in between Dee, Gordon, Kemp, Ethier, Lonety and Rivera (totally serviceable) lies Adam Kennedy. Yeah THAT Adam Kennedy. The guy is 36, plays like he’s 38, and has a below average glove. That’s not a good thing for him to be playing every day. Guys like him and Jamey Carroll, and mark Loretta and the corpse of Mark Ellis should be getting 275 AB/s a piece to rest your starters, not getting 550 AB/s. We have a catcher in AJ Ellis who has never managed to crack the starting lineup, despite Donnie Baseball’s options being limited to Dioner Navarro and Rod Barajas. But somehow he has earned the job this year. And by “earned” I mean Frank Mccourt didn’t “earn” enough money to pay for an actual catcher, so we have this 30 year old “rookie sensation” Sadly I think he still qualifies.

See? I’m not asking a lot?!!

All we need in no particular order is: a 2B, a 3B (Juan Uribe does not count, though he is an excellent fielder, who knew?) and a catcher. We also need Loney to change who he is, Ethier to do something he’s never done, make a huge trade at the deadline for another front line starter, big bat and a couple career years.

So basically I’m asking for a miracle.

I’m so down on the dodgers it’s hard for me to even be rational anymore. The optimism pendulum has swing so far for me that it’s hard for me to even think straight. So there you have it.

I predict we go 84-80 and qualify for the 1 game playoff which we lose.

Adam: Taking deep breath. Ok good to go.  That was pretty epic.  We had everything from hangover talk to Adam Kennedy insults to praying to the new Joe Boo (Matt Kemp) for miracles.  Thankfully, as an Indians fan, I don’t think we need nearly as much help.  This can be said for anybody but the Indians need to be healthy first and foremost.  They were decimated (again) last year with injury but since that’s not a legitimate hope I’ll do the real needs, in list fashion for clarity:

  1. The most important piece to a successful 2012 Tribe season is Ubaldo Jimenez.  While he’s off to a bad start by getting suspended for his first start on Saturday (appealing), if Ubaldo can return to his pre-2011 form then the Indians have a top-5 1-2 punch in him and Masterson.  In fact, if you give me projected 2012 Masterson/ return to form Jimenez in a 7 game series I like my chances against just about anybody.  If Ubaldo does what I think he’ll do and wins 17+ games, then the Tribe win the AL Central. If he struggles and goes 6-13, they will finish 4th. Plain and simple.
  2. Shin Soo Choo needs to put 2011 behind him. The promising young outfielder with great power and a cannon for an arm disappointed last year while getting hurt and leading the AL in South Korean DUIs.  He should be a .310/30/120 guy and if his head really is clear like the team is saying then I don’t see any issues with those expectations.
  3. The Bullpen Mafia just needs to keep chugging along.  I’ll debate your Best Bullpen in the Majors comment only because I got to watch these guys all last year.  We have versatility with two lefty specialists, Joe Smith’s side arm slanging, and two legit closers. In fact, our set up guy, Vinnie Pestano, has a brighter future closing than Pure Rage Perez does but both will do just fine.
  4. Carlos Santana & Asdrubal Cabrera. Both should be kept fresh with days off and Santana getting to play 1B/DH.  Asdrubal’s numbers will come down a bit but I expect Carlos to be a monster. I also expect the continued progression of a healthy Jason Kipness to be massive to this team.
  5. Someone, anyone needs to be serviceable in left field.  I don’t expect Grady to play at all this year and anything that he gives us will be a bonus but the combination of Duncan/Cunningham/Pie/Spilborghs will need to at least put up tough at bats if nothing else.  I don’t care f you strike out, just make the pitcher throw 10 pitches for it to happen.  This is our biggest hole.
  6. Verlander needs to come back down to earth.  Yes he’s one of the top 3 pitchers in the league but I sincerely doubt he throws a near-nohitter every time out again this year.

Other than this you can hope for a serviceable Hafner/Hannihan/Brantley and our backend of the rotation and I see a very successful team.

My realistic prediction is that the Indians beat out the Tigers for the Division title, because the Tigers will underperform, and then lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Angels.

Alright bro, big finish… best thing about the return of baseball:

Max: That’s easy. For 7 months of the year it’s like having an extra pet. It’s there every day. It loves you. There is always a baseball game on with the exception being the day after the All-Star break, a terrible day. Worst day of the year. No game. The reliability is my favorite part; you come home, you put it on and settle in for 3 and a half hours of Vin Scully waxing poetic. Is there a better way to spend your night? There’s beauty in lying on the couch reading the paper and hearing the crack of the bat, knowing the ball was driven, the quick roar of the crowd and the pitch of the announcer going up an octave in excitement. You look up to see the left fielder running back to the wall, the runner from first freezes halfway to second. And the runner on 3rd goes back to the bag. The ball careens off the wall, and they’re off. What will happen? Will the left fielder play the ball properly; will it bounce cleanly off the wall? Will the runner from first score? Who knows? But I can’t wait to watch.

Adam: Couldn’t have said it better myself… Go Tribe.

 

Post Script: 

Realistic World Series predictions:

Adam: Angels over Braves.

Max: Red Sox over Giants.